How to Testify

How to Prepare and Testify at a Public Hearing

Our representative republic is at its most efficient when citizens are involved.

  • Remember that the committee members are elected officials who are grateful to hear from you.  They want to know what you and your spheres of influence think about the topic of discussion.
  • Your testimony does not have to be perfect.  It does have to be honest.

The tips below will help you prepare:

  1. Prayer is an essential foundation.  Pray for the committee members and for your opportunity to speak to them.  Remember that these are God’s issues and are not ours to control.
  2. Know your subject.   Don’t presume they are knowledgeable of the subject and don’t take for granted where they may stand on the issue.
  3. Clearly state whether you support or oppose the particular piece of legislation.
  4. Keep your testimony simple and short. (While your goal should be testimony of 5 minutes maximum, the ideal time is 2–3 minutes). Don’t hit on the same point over and over.
  5. Don’t try to say everything about your topic.  Hit on a few key points that you want the committee members to think about and remember.
  6. Prepare a written copy of your testimony to give to the secretary prior to your opportunity to speak.  This is also helpful in the event that you do not get to testify.
  7. Relate as much of your own real life situation when appropriate.  The committee wants to know how particular legislation and issues affect Idahoans.
  8. Be willing to answer any questions the committee members may have.  If you don’t know an answer, don’t be afraid to say so.  If you want to, you can offer commit to finding the answer and supply them with it at a later time.
  9. In the rare event that any of the questions are hostile remain confident, polite and respectful.
  10. Come early and be prepared to stay late.
  11. Remember to thank the committee.
  12. If the vote does not go your way remain positive. Do not become hostile.  Remember, these are God’s battles.  We are not responsible for the outcome.  We are responsible for our actions.